Mainstream Republicans have confided in Sen. Chuck Schumer that they intend to regain control of the GOP from the tea party wing if Mitt Romney loses the election, the New York Democrat told reporters Thursday.
“There has always been a group of Republicans that want to compromise. But they have been outshouted, outflanked by tea party. They’re about equal,” Schumer said. “If we keep the Senate and the president wins, and even better if we take the House, though the mainstream — there are no moderates — the mainstream Republicans are going to be strengthened. They’ve told me that. And the leaders — both [House Speaker John] Boehner and [Senate Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell sort of have a foot in each camp. But they’re pulled and dragged by the tea party. They’re going to be strengthened to come and compromise with us.”
At a press conference with other Senate Democratic leaders, Schumer said the ostensible Republican strategy of winning the 2012 elections by thwarting President Obama “doesn’t look so hot now” and “is backfiring on them.” He predicted Romney’s “flailing campaign” will help “break the fever” of GOP obstruction.
“I think that we’re seeing — we have two groups of Republicans in the House and Senate. There are no moderates left. God bless Susan Collins. But half of them are hard-right tea party types and half of them are what I call mainstream conservatives,” he said. “And if the Democrats — if the president wins and we keep the Senate, those mainstream conservatives are going to be strengthened. And they’re going to want to reach out and work with us because the embrace of the tea party that Mitt Romney has done — that is, in my view dragging down all of their candidates — will have failed. And it will strengthen those in the Republican Party who would like to work with us and weaken those in the Republican Party who have said compromise is a dirty word.”
The No. 3 Democratic senator was more bullish than ever on Obama’s odds of winning reelection and his party’s chances of retaining the Senate majority.
“This is not where Republicans thought they’d be with 50 days left before election,” he said. “So everything is moving in a direction of us coming together because the obstructionist tea party is losing out.”
Sahil Kapur is a congressional reporter for TPM. He previously covered politics and public policy for numerous publications including The Guardian and The Huffington Post. He can be reached at sahil [at] talkingpointsmemo.com.